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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

HISTORY   AND    HUMAN    RELATIONS

victorious Whigs claimed the right to treat the Tories
in the way that die Tories in their previous triumph had
treated ,them ; and from a certain point of view they
could feel justified in this, their demand for severities
being prompted by moral indignation. On these lines,
however, the politics of scandal and melodrama might
have continued for ever, each party only conscious that
it was punishing the crimes of the other as it acquired,
in turn, the power to be vindictive. We might wonder
how the world can ever escape from a vicious circle of
this peculiar kind, since even indignation against^ the
barbarities of the enemy tended to make both parties
more barbarous themselves. William III was right,
after the Revolution of 1688, to insist on what we might
almost call forgiveness of sins. The only way out of
the vicious circle is for one of the parties in the moment
of victory to forgo the dangerous pleasures of vindictive
justice even in conditions where it feels authorised to be
vindictive.

IV

The Christian attitude to the whole question of righteous-
ness and of human conduct, therefore, is not the same
as that which is so generally current in the world. And
in the discussion of its claims it is irrelevant if Christians
are reproached for a failure to attain the ideal they
preach; since by the definition of the case they agree
that they are worthy of judgment in the light of that
particular standard—in other words, they have to confess

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